Friday, May 23, 2008

from Brittany, France: one last

Thursday. Last full day here.

Last morning trek to Lannelis, to get a café crème and Ed’s favorite baguette. Except that the best of the best boulangeries is closed on Thursdays. Ah well, back to the second best bakery and the forever great pain au chocolat. I'm okay with that.

Last hike. This one along the northern coast of the Aber Wrac’h (the inlet; not the village). Five hours, and that’s only along the widest shoreline, near the mouth. At low tide now.

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One last chance to get lost and we do. The trails are marked well, until they’re not marked at all. Instead of by the Aber, we wind up in a cabbage field. It’s an interesting detour. We pause to watch the tractor move on its own as two farmers hack at the cabbage heads and a woman stacks them in crates.

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Other fields: many are sprouting new growth. Must be the second planting, no? The rows are often, well, artistic.

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…And, randomly, we find art just next to a field. At first it looks like a boulder. Ed stares at it and says – it’s no boulder. It’s quite a striking human form.

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The trail is empty, as usual. Oh, but wait, we do encounter one small group of hikers. Not French! This is rare! Can you guess the nationality? (A hint: he’s from the country closest to Brittany and he is studying a butterfly.)

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Last search for a café, last loving look at the flowers here, at the blue shutters, blue gates, old stone houses.

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And the coast. Channel up ahead. Lighthouses. Seaweed at low tide. Did you ever pop seaweed? Ed asks. We pop it, explosively.

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On the return, a brief, gentle sprinkling of rain. It was supposed to rain all day, but it didn’t. As every other day here, the weather was magnificent. Varied, surprising, but ultimately magnificent.

Aber filling in now. Twice a day in, twice a day out. It’s like having two runs around a track, two opening times of a store, two chances. Today, morning, sun pokes through, tide’s out. Afternoon, slate gray sky, slate gray waters, tide’s in. Slate. Like the roof shingles of a Brittany house.

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By the bridge over the Aber, we find a restaurant that oozes charm and is packed with French men and women. We reserve a place for the evening.

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At the apartment, we eat the last of the artichokes (call it a predinner aperitif). Over the sweet taste of choke and Brittany butter, I mention for one last time that we should have a summer house here. The last page of a story. Close the book. With a deep sigh.

In the village, people are gathering in and around the handful of eating places. Wine, cider, drinks of choice. Warm enough to take out to the stone wall that runs along the edge of the Aber.

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At the Auberge du Pont, I have my last plate of Brittany seafood. Oysters and such. Brought in from the fishery across the street. Served on a bed of seaweed.

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Our dinner trilogy is there as well: rosé, water and apple juice. In addition to having a favorite Brittany baguette, Ed now has a deep and abiding love for Brittany artisanal apple juices. Waiters can’t quite get used to his ordering a large bottle and drinking it down before the main course arrives. He has a favorite grower (I agree – this one orchard produces the most heavenly bouquet of flavors…honey sweet but with a touch of no nonsense crispness…mmmm) and tomorrow, before we leave for Paris, we’re setting out to look for it. Some people take back wine. Ed’ll take back apple juice.

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A last taste of crème brulee. For now. I’ll have more in June.

And a last look at a ten-thirty evening sky, just out our window. A long and wistful look.

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